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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

U.S. Congressional Oversight

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the main investigative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. It has jurisdiction to investigate any federal program and any matter with federal policy implications. It has a number of subcommittees, with the National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations Subcommittee engaging in active oversight of PMSC use by the U.S. government. The National Security Subcommittee has oversight jurisdiction over national security, homeland security, overseas operations, immigration, and emergency management.

Reports

Investigations and Analysis

Private Military Contractors in Iraq: An Examination of Blackwater’s Actions in Fallujah

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This report was prepared by the Majority staff of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It is a follow-up to a February 2007 hearing that examined the pivotal event of the Iraq War in which four Blackwater USA security contractors were ambushed and killed in Fallujah while escorting a convoy.  After the hearing, the Committee investigated what actually happened in Fallujah and whether Blackwater approached its security duties responsibly. This report details the findings of the investigation. 

Memorandum: Additional Information about Blackwater USA

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This memo was circulated to members of the Hosue Committee on Government and Oversight Reform in advance of an on October 2, 2007 hearing entitled, “Blackwater USA: Private Military Contractor Activity in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The memo provided Committee members with additional information about Blackwater’s work for the U.S. State Department, in particular about incidents of violence and use of force by Blackwater employees in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Memorandum: Hearing on the Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act of 2012 (S.2139)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act of 2012 (S.2139) was introduced in the U.S. Senate on February 29, 2012. The legislation is based on the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This memo about the Act was drafted to provide background information in advance of a review hearing on S.2139. As the memo addresses, if enacted, the legislation would implement comprehensive reforms by (1) increasing accountability for contingency contracting and (2) transforming the way the federal government awards, manages, and oversees contracts in contingencies.

Mystery at Manas: Strategic Blind Spots in the Department of Defense’s Fuel Contracts in Kyrgyzstan

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This report was prepared by the Majority staff of the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Following an eight-month investigation, the report details the troubling circumstances surrounding the Department of Defense’s massive fuel contracts at the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan.  The DOD failed to properly oversee the political, diplomatic, and geopolitical collateral consequences of its contracting arrangements to support the war effort in Afghanistan, and in the process damaged U.S. relations with Kyrgyzstan.

Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This report was prepared by the Majority staff of the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It is confined to the facts pertaining to the Host Nation Trucking contracts. After a six-month investigation, the report exposes the circumstances surrounding the Department of Defense’s outsourcing of security on the supply chain in Afghanistan to questionable contractors and providers, including warlords.

Hearings

112th Congress (2011-2012)

Are Changes in Security Policy Jeopardizing USAID Reconstruction Projects and Personnel in Afghanistan? (H. Hrg. 112-149)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing addressed Afghan President Karzai’s Presidential Decree 62, which mandated that USAID implementing partners cannot use private security companies after March 20, 2012. Instead, the contractors and nongovernment organizations must contract with the Afghan Public Protection Force, or the APPF. Concerns about this change were discussed at this hearing, including the cost to the U.S. of employing the APPF; the readiness and capability of the APPF to provide security; and risk of modification or perhaps even termination of USAID programs in Afghanistan. 

Status Report on the Transition to a Civilian-Led Mission in Iraq (H. Hrg. 112-108)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing examined the challenges facing the Defense Department and the State Department as they transitioned from a military-led to a civilian-led effort in Iraq. Witnesses were asked to discuss reports that the State Department would hire thousands of private security contractors to complete the mission, and whether the Department was prepared to oversee these contractors.

Defense Department Contracting in Afghanistan: Are We Doing Enough to Combat Corruption? (H. Hrg. 112-80)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This was a follow up hearing. A year prior, the Committee conducted an investigation of the Defense Department’s Host Nation Trucking Contract for private contractors. It was alleged that warlords would seek "protection payments" from government contractors  for safe passage through tribal areas. This hearing was held to determine whether the Department of Defense had strengthened its oversight of security and military contractors since this discovery, and to assess how the Department was dealing with corruption in general.

U.S. Military Leaving Iraq: Is the State Department Ready? (H. Hrg. 112-8)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing examined the challenges facing the Defense Department and the State Department as they transitioned from a military to civilian-led effort in Iraq. The State Department was to help train the Iraqi police, operate an office of security cooperation to manage foreign military sales, train and equip the Iraqi military and ensure that ongoing reconstruction projects are properly transferred to Iraqi control. Most of these responsibilities were to be completed by private contractors. Witnesses were asked to discuss with the State Department—and its contractors—were ready to undertake these tasks.

Where is the Peace Dividend? Examining the Final Report to Congress of the Commission on Wartime Contracting (H. Hrg. 112-85)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing examined the challenges, conclusions, and recommendations offered by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, including how to combat fraud and waste in government contracts, and how to handle the large number of private security forces employed by the government overseas.

Assessment of the Transition from a Military to a Civilian-led Mission in Iraq

Author: House Oversight and Government Reform
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In this hearing, the House Committee discussed the drawdown and departure of troops in Iraq and the assessed the new plans for the new State Department led mission in the country. Testimony discusses the police and military training program sponsored by the United States as well as contractor use by the U.S. government. While the numbers of contractor personnel in Iraq are high, witnesses testified that recruiting, vetting and training contractors was a challenge. As a result of that and a security situation which deteriorated in the months preceding, DOD and State were forced to renew existing contracts and retain high numbers of personnel. 

Are Government Contractors Exploiting Workers Overseas? Examining Enforcement of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (H. Hrg. 112-93)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The stated purpose of this hearing was to explore whether the United States, through its use of contractors in war zones and contingency environments, has become an enabler of human trafficking or knowingly turned a blind eye to trafficking. The Committee also sought to examine the role of contractors and their subcontractors in exploiting unskilled workers.

The Security Failures of Benghazi (H. Hr 112)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The Security Failures of Benghazi hearing includes testimony from Mr. Eric Nordstrom, Regional Security Officer, U.S. Department of State and Lieutenant Col. Andrew Wood, Commander of a 16 member security support team. In this hearing, the Committee seeks to understand what the State Department recognised went wrong, what it can do to avoid a reoccurrence, and how quickly it can institute changes.

Oversight in Iraq and Afghanistan: Challenges and Solutions (H. Hrg. 112-101)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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During this hearing, witnesses were asked to examined a number of issues, including whether the State Department is prepared to oversee the surge and private contracting in Iraq; whether the State Department will be able to protect government employees and contractors in Iraq after the military withdraws; whether USAID and the State Department can accurately track reconstruction projects and account for their expenditures; whether those projects can and will be sustained by the host nations; and whether the Defense Department is working to ensure that taxpayer money isn’t extorted along Afghanistan’s supply chain.

Labor Abuses, Human Trafficking, and Government Contracts: Is the Government Doing Enough to Protect Vulnerable Workers? (H. Hrg. 112-137)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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Representatives from the Departments of State and Defense were among the witnesses at this hearing about human trafficking and government contracts. Witnesses discussed how federal acquisition regulations were amended to prevent government contractors from engaging in this type of abuse, and how the federal acquisition workforce was being trained to detect and prevent trafficking by contractors.

111th Congress (2009-2010)

National Security: Interagency Collaboration and Lessons from SOUTHCOM and AFRICOM (H. Hrg. 111-124)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing examined the mechanisms and processes for collaboration between different U.S. agencies and the Department of Defense's regional combatant commands. Witnesses from the DOD, Department of State, and USAID discussed each agency's approach to interagency collaboration as well as what procedures, personnel, and organizational structures can be put in place to ensure that the agencies are able to work together efficiently and effectively. One witness submitted information to the Committee on the number of private contractors involved in AFRICOM and SOUTHCOM and what work are they doing for the government.

Commission on Wartime Contracting: Interim Findings and Path Forward (H. Hrg. 111-13)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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Witnesses at this hearing discussed the interim findings of the Commission on Wartime Contraction related to government contract practices in Iraq and Afghanistan. An entire chapter of the Commission's report addresses private security contractors (Chapter 3).  This chapter and the role and oversight of private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan was discussed at the hearing.

Defense Acquisitions: One Year After Reform (H. Hrg. 111-151)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing examined the conclusions and a recommendation made in the GAO’s March 2010 Assessment of Selected Weapon Programs, with a focus on how well DOD has planned and executed its weapons acquisition programs.  The witnesses discussed what progress has been made towards implementing reforms and best practices in the acquisition process, including DOD efforts to reduce the Department’s reliance on contractors by in-sourcing essential government work.

Transition in Iraq: Is the State Department Prepared to Take the Lead? (H. Hrg. 111-103)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The hearing examined issues raised by the Commission on Wartime Contracting's report, released on July 12, 2010, entitled, "Better Planning for Defense-to-State Transition in Iraq Needed to Avoid Mistakes and Waste." Witnesses were also asked whether State Department contractors would be able to perform military or quasi-military tasks after the transition from a military to civilian-led effort in Iraq.

Training and Equipping Afghan Security Forces: Unaccounted Weapons and Strategic Challenges (H. Hrg. 111-115)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing examined U.S. efforts to train and equip the Afghan army and police, efforts that included the hiring and use of contractors for training assistance. The hearingcoincided with the release of a report from the Government Accountability Office's on-the-ground investigation into the accountability of weapons provided to the Afghan army and police, and explored broader strategic concerns with the U.S. and international efforts to strengthen the Afghan police. 

Investigation of Protection Payments for Safe Passage Along Afghan Supply Chain (H. Hrg. 111-144)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing explored allegations that Afghan warlords and insurgents are extorting protection payments from American contractors who transport goods and materials to U.S. troops throughout Afghanistan. At the hearing, the Committee released its report "Warlord Inc." that examined whether payments to warlords were being made by the recipient of the Department of Defense's (DoD) $2.16 billion Afghan Host Nation Trucking (HNT) contract, which covered  deliveries of more than 70 percent of the food, water, ammunition, weapons, and fuel to more than 200 U.S. military forward operating bases and combat outposts throughout the country.

The State of Federal Contracting: Opportunities and Challenges for Strengthening Government Procurement and Acquisition Policies (H. Hrg. 111-53)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing addressed current laws and regulations governing agency procurement and acquisition practices. Witnesses were asked to discuss why agencies, in particular the Department of Defense, are able to award contracts to contractors that have been disbarred, suspended, or have been performing poorly.

Afghanistan and Pakistan: Resourcing the Civilian "Surge" (H. Hrg. 111-56)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing examined the Administration's Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy calling for a "civilian surge." Witnesses included high-ranking government officials from the Department of State, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, and USAID. Among other topics, they discussed the government’s reliance on private security contractors to carry out its mission. 

Rise of the Drones II: Examining the Legality of Unmanned Targeting (H. Hrg. 111-120)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing, second in a two part series, addressed the legality of the government’s increased use of unmanned systems, more commonly called "drones." Witnesses stated only a lawful combatant may carry out the use of killing with combat drones. Government contractors have no right to do so. This is because they do not wear uniforms, they are not in the chain of command, and they are not trained in the law of armed conflict.

Contracting in Combat Zones: Who Are Our Contractors? (H. Hrg. 111-142)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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Witnesses at this hearing were asked to discuss findings that the U.S. officials charged with overseeing overseas wartime contracts have no visibility into the actual operations of the contractors and subcontractors, who they employed, how they functioned, and where they spent their money. The witnesses, all with considerable expertise in the area of contingency contracting, were also asked to discuss what more Congress, the agencies, and others can do to increase visibility, oversight, and accountability over the contractors and subcontractors who are crucial to the success of U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

How Convicts and Con Artists Receive New Federal Contracts (H. Hrg. 111-14)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing examined the Excluded Parties List System, a federal database intended to prevent persons and businesses ineligible to receive federal contracts due to past misconduct from receiving new awards. A GAO report found numerous examples of ineligible parties continuing to receive new federal contracts, due to flaws in the database and inadequate contracting procedures. Many of the parties who continue to receive new contracts have been debarred from contracting for egregious violations that directly threatened the national security of the United States and the safety of U.S. troops and citizens. The hearing reviewed whether immediate changes should be implemented to prevent the award of economic stimulus contracts to ineligible fraudulent contractors.

110th Congress (2007-2008)

Iraqi Reconstruction: Reliance on Private Military Contractors and Status Report (H. Hrg. 110-11)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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Family members of four Blackwater employees killed in Fallujah testified about what they view as profiteering by Blackwater USA, including the company’s alleged failure to provide armored vehicles and other critical safety equipment. The Committee examined the costs of Blackwater’s security operations to the taxpayer and the adequacy of federal oversight of Blackwater and other security contractors.

Oversight of Defense Department Acquisitions (H. Hrg. 110-211)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The hearing examined the recent report by the Government Accountability Office titled, "Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs." This report found that the Defense Department’s 95 major weapons acquisition programs currently exceed their original budgets by nearly $300 billion dollars and are, on average, 21 months late in delivering these weapons systems to warfighters. These rates of cost overruns and delivery delays are significantly higher than in previous GAO surveys. The hearing will represent the first opportunity for Department of Defense officials to testify to Congress about the report.

Iraq Reconstruction: An Overview (H. Hrg. 110-27)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq provided new information about the status of Iraq reconstruction projects and troop support contracts, with a particular focus on the DOD's reliance on contractors for security and logistical services. The hearing examined whether the findings of these auditors should affect Congress' assessment of the President's new request for additional taxpayer dollars.

Pakistan at the Crossroads; Afghanistan in the Balance (H. Hrg. 110-173)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing was part of the Committee's oversight of U.S. policy toward Pakistan. Among other issues, witnesses were asked about the U.S. presence in Pakistan and Afghanistan at this time, counting civilian government personnel, military personnel, and U.S. Government contractors.  Witnesses were also questioned about the role of contractors-security and otherwise-in the two countries. 

Management of Massive Homeland Security Contracts: Deepwater and SBInet (H. Hrg. 110-19)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The hearing focused on the Department of Homeland Security’s management of large contracts that rely on private contractors as "system integrators." The Committee looked at two examples of multi-billion dollar contracts: the Deepwater program to develop new ships for the Coast Guard and the Secure Border Initiative to integrate technology and personnel to defend the nation’s borders.

Allegations of Waste, Fraud and Abuse at the New U.S. Embassy in Iraq (H. Hrg. 110-61)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The Committee held a hearing to examine the performance of the State Department and its contractors in the construction of the new $600 million U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The Committee asked questions regarding the embassy compound construction as well as allegations of labor abuse through improper contracting practices. Discussion is had about the LOGCAP contract for a variety of logistical support functions to the United States and Coalition personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The State Department and the Iraq War (H. Hrg. 110-120)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified at an Oversight Committee hearing focusing on the State Department’s performance on several significant issues relating to the Iraq war, including the impact of the activities of Blackwater USA and corruption within the Iraqi ministries on the prospects of political reconciliation in Iraq. The Committee discussed with the Secretary allegations of wrongdoing associated with the construction of the new U.S. Embassy Compound in Baghdad, as well as other matters under investigation by the Committee.

Blackwater USA (H. Hrg. 110-89)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The hearing examined the mission and performance of Blackwater USA and its affiliated companies in Iraq and Afghanistan. It addressed three key questions relevant at the time: (1) Is Blackwater’s presence advancing or undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq? (2) Has the State Department responded appropriately to shooting incidents involving Blackwater forces? And (3) what are the costs for U.S. taxpayers of the reliance on Blackwater and other private military contractors?

AFRICOM: Rationales, Roles and Progress on the Eve of Operations, Part 2 (H. Hrg. 110-186)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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Witnesses at this hearing on AFRICOM discussed the State Department's use of private contractors to implement the Bureau of African Affairs’ Africa Peacekeeping Program, so- called AFRICAP. For fiscal year 2003, AFRICAP contracts had previously been awarded to PAE and DynCorp International. Witnesses remarked on whether it was desirable to use contractors, whether the Department of State had the capacity to oversee these contractors, and whether contractor training was effective. 

Accountability Lapses in Multiple Funds for Iraq (H. Hrg. 110-131)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The hearing examined allegations of waste and abuse in the procurement of Defense Base Act (DBA) insurance, the workers’ compensation insurance required for all federal contractors working overseas. Contractors obtain DBA insurance from private insurance companies, and these costs are included in the price of the contract and passed on to taxpayers.

Defense Base Act Insurance: Are Taxpayers Paying Too Much? (H. Hrg. 110-83)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The hearing examined allegations of waste and abuse in the procurement of Defense Base Act (DBA) insurance, the workers’ compensation insurance required for all federal contractors working overseas. Contractors obtain DBA insurance from private insurance companies, and these costs are included in the price of the contract and passed on to taxpayers.

Examination of AEY Contracts with the U.S. Government (H. Hrg. 110-119)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The hearing addressed failures by AEY, Inc., to provide weapons and ammunition to Afghan forces under contracts with the United States Government, and the deficiencies within the government that allowed AEY to be awarded these and other contracts.

109th Congress (2005-2006)

Private Security Firms Standards, Cooperation and Coordination on the Battlefield (H. Hrg. 109-214)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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The Committee asked witnesses to discuss the following questions: What are the evolving roles and missions of the private security firms operating in Iraq? What standards and capabilities are private security firms required to have before being hired by our government? And, to what extent do private security firms coordinate with the U.S. military and other government agencies operating in Iraq?

108th Congress (2003-2004)

The War Against Drugs and Thugs: A Status Report on Plan Colombia, Successes and Remaining Challenges (H. Hrg. 108-214)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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Witnesses at this hearing discussed U.S. military/counter-narcotics aid offered as part of “Plan Colombia.” At the time of this hearing, the U.S. presence in Colombia amounted to 400 military personnel and 400 contractors under the direction of U.S. SOUTHCOM. Witnesses testified that the U.S. government wanted to increase these numbers.

The Complex Task of Coordinating Contracts Amid Chaos: The Challenges of Rebuilding a Broken Iraq (H. Hrg. 108-213)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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Among other issues, witnesses at this multi-day hearing discussed Department of Defense oversight of contracts related to military operations and reconstruction in Iraq. Allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse were addressed, as was the need for contractor support for U.S. military operations. 

Iraq: Winning the Hearts and Minds (H. Hrg. 108-233)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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Witnesses at this hearing were asked to discuss the following question: What have we learned about how a newly sovereign Iraq perceives U.S. words and actions? Discussion was had about the four American private military contractors murdered in Fallujah, the U.S. military response to these crimes, and how the entire series of events affected the public’s perception of U.S. forces in Iraq. 

107th Congress (2001-2002)

U.S. Air Interdiction Efforts in South America After the Peru Incident (H. Hrg. 107-61)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing was held after private contractors working for the CIA shot down a plane carrying U.S. missionaries, mistaking it for a plane involved in illicit drug trafficking and trade. Congressmen asked witnesses to discuss the use of private contractors by the United States in the Andean region, and in particular oversight and accountability of government contractors. 

106th Congress (1999-2000)

Crisis in Colombia: What Are We Facing? (H. Hrg. 106-151)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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Witnesses at this hearing discussed U.S. responses to the narco-terrorist threat in Colombia. Witnesses testified that MPRI, a private security company, was hired by the U.S. to conduct an analysis and study of Colombia’s armed forces and to develop an operational concept to force structures and doctrines for Colombia’s security forces.

Getting U.S. Aid to Colombia (H. Hrg. 106-276)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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At this hearing about U.S. counter-narcotics efforts in Colombia, witnesses were asked to comment on news reports of the growing number and involvement of the U.S. “civilian-paid Army” in Colombia. Plan Colombia was discussed, as were Department of State, Justice and Defense contractors operating in Colombia. 

105th Congress (1997-1998)

International Drug Control Policy: Colombia (H. Hrg. 105-72)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing explored the government’s comprehensive illegal narcotics control efforts in Colombia. Witnesses testified that to augment support for eradication, U.S. contractor personnel had been increased to include security specialists, pilots, mechanics, operations advisors and search and rescue teams.

Contracting Out—Successes and Failures (H. Hrg. 105-106)

Author: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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This hearing examined whether contracting for services by the federal government yielded greater benefits or costs. Witness testified about privatization within the Department of Defense, and argued that it negatively affected military readiness and operations.